Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Istra, Russia

Abandoned Marx Generator

A dormant lightning machine equal to all the power in Russia. 

Towering up above a forest near Moscow is the strange configuration of tubes that were once used as a shockingly powerful lightning machine.

The Marx generator — often mistaken in appearance for a Tesla coil — was constructed in the 1970s by the Russian Electrical Engineering Institute. The aim was to have a machine to test lightning insulation. When at peak power, the Marx generator could discharge for 100 microseconds onto a platform at the same level as all generating facilities in the country. 

Now the Soviet-era tower is mostly abandoned, although reportedly still rarely turned on, including in August of 2014. But the risk of a sudden electrical storm hasn’t stopped many would-be explorers from venturing near its incredible towers.